Sept. 26, 2016 | Literature helps form our beliefs. And while novels can stir outrage, they also provide catharsis, which has the effect of mollifying our politics... more »


Sept. 24, 2016 | When the milieu makes the philosopher. Descartes, Hobbes, and their contemporaries lived through the Scientific Revolution and several wars of religion. Their narratives matter... more »


Sept. 23, 2016 | Beware nostalgia and those promising to restore society to its former greatness. “Hopes can be disappointed," says Mark Lilla. "Nostalgia is irrefutable”... more »


Sept. 22, 2016 | Against everything. In a time of abundance, we impose artificial scarcity. Why? Mark Greif unpacks our elaborate restrictions on food, exercise, sex... more »


Sept. 21, 2016 | 1862 was a low point for Marx. Europe had taken a conservative turn. He was obscure and in poor health. So he pursued a new career: railway clerk... more »


Sept. 20, 2016 | Jean Cocteau was a novelist, dandy, designer, and provocateur. How to make sense of his life? A thousand-page book takes on all of his parts... more »


Sept. 19, 2016 | The early days of psychoanalysis were full of hope, overweening ambition, and an absence of scientific method. Witness to it all was Emma Jung... more »


Sept. 17, 2016 | In 1941, Gallimard was eager to publish a novel by an unknown Algerian, Albert Camus. One problem: They couldn't find any paper... more »


Sept. 16, 2016 | How have the Mitford sisters so captivated writers? Start with their wealth, wayward magnetism, antic charm, rivalry, loyalty, and political folly... more »


Sept. 15, 2016 | Literary biography meets the anecdote-proof life. Wallace Stevens loved long walks, gifts from Ceylon, and persimmons. Does knowing that help us understand his poetry?... more »


Sept. 14, 2016 | Clive James, bingewatcher. He's an incisive and discerning critic. But it's his affection for the abysmal that distinguishes his taste in television... more »


Sept. 13, 2016 | The struggles of August Wilhelm Schlegel. He defined Romanticism, pioneered Indology, and translated Shakespeare into German. He also managed to alienate almost everyone along the way ... more »


Sept. 12, 2016 | A world without cats. They're cute, but don't be fooled: They're a menace to animal society. Is it morally acceptable to sacrifice one species over another?... more »


Sept. 10, 2016 | Born "ordinary, hillbilly, and poor," Helen Gurley Brown made her life a monument to artifice and the belief that any problem could be redeemed by humor and an upbeat ending.... more »


Sept. 9, 2016 | The forces of reaction, on the right and the left, have shadowed European thought for centuries. Mark Lilla explores a cast of mind... more »


Sept. 8, 2016 | Campaign season: a quadrennial procession of academics advancing obtuse theories on the electorate. Here comes a Berkeley sociologist dripping condescension... more »


Sept. 7, 2016 | The desire to conclude with a clear moral can lead writers to try to bring closure. This awkwardness rarely pays off, especially when the topic is marital angst... more »


Sept. 6, 2016 | "The Grande Decoration," Monet's multipart installation project, preoccupied the last decade of his life. It was a period of vacillation, self-doubt, and selfishness... more »


Sept. 5, 2016 | Black-shag tobacco, horse dung, camphor, boiled cabbage, dishwater, body odor: What to make of George Orwell's olfactory obsessions?... more »


Sept. 3, 2016 | The founding tenets of modernity – liberalism, democracy, personal autonomy – are giving way to a new religion: Dataism. Its adherents believe in the triumph of information... more »


Sept. 2, 2016 | Tom Wolfe has long been deft at skewering the pompous, the status-seeking, the class-conscious. His new target: Darwin. Wolfe comes armed not with evidence, but with sarcasm... more »


Aug. 31, 2016 | The vanishing Christian intellectual. Auden, Eliot, Lewis, Niebuhr once dominated public discourse and dotted the covers of Time. Where are their descendants?... more »


Aug. 30, 2016 | Benjamin vs. Brecht. Their chess matches pitted the mercurial self-confidence of Brecht against the quiet focus of Benjamin. Brecht usually won... more »


Aug. 29, 2016 | There is a vast literature on Wagner: his politics, philosophical ambition, and anti-Semitism. Is it any longer possible to really hear the music?... more »


Aug. 27, 2016 | Rousseau, Nietzsche, Isaiah Berlin, Leo Strauss — the history of modernism is full of pessimists. But modernity is about more than great books... more »


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